How to Draw a Detail

Creating 3D models is the fun part of Vectorworks, but contract documentation is the longest part. In most countries contract documentation accounts for 45-50% of the architectural fee. This makes it the single biggest part of the project.

You can can use the BIM principles to speed up the creation of Plans, Sections, Elevations, and you can use it to help create details, but you still need to create many details that are not generated from the 3D model.


Even if you can get the 3D model to generate the details, they are often not drawn in a way that will help the contractors to read them. When you draw details, it is important that each part of the detail is readable and this means that you have to separate all the materials so they can be seen and annotated.

Step 1 – Structure

I always start by drawing the structure. The structure is usually the last thing to move, so you can draw that first. In this case I’m drawing the detail for a timber framed building, so I’ll draw that first.

Notice that the timber is shown with heavy lines where the timber is cut through, but with light lines where the timber is in not cut through bit still visible.

Step 2 – Air Barrier

Draw the next part of the building. In this detail I am using a building wrap, but it could easily be a rigid air barrier. The important part here is that the materials are separated from each other so that they are readable. If you do not separate the materials, other people will not be able to read the detail and you will get a lot of questions.

Ensure you use a standard line style to indicate the air barrier. Consistent line weights and line styles are essential.
Step 3 – Cladding Support

This particlar design uses a ventilated cavity with weatherboards. It does not matter that your design is different, the principle of that the design is being built up one layer at a time. Notice how the materials are separated. Notice how all the cavity battens are being drawn for the corner.

It is important to research the current building codes and manufactures technical documents so that you details are up to date and comply with your building regulations.

Step 4 – Cladding

The final material to add is the cladding. In this case I am using Hardies Linea weatherboards. These are not traditional timber, so the hatching has to reflect this material. These weatherboards use metal corners (soakers), so they have been drawn as well.


Step 5 – Annotation

Finally add any else that is needed on the detail and add the annotation. Without notes and dimensions the detail is not meaningful. Make sure that everything is annotated (it’s easy to forget something). Remember that the person reading your details does not know your project.


Step 6 – Colour

Try adding color to your details. Feedback from clients says that the contractors find the details easier to read and building control officers (the people that grant building control) to read the details.


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